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Main article: History of Zambia

The indigenous Khoisan hunter-gatherer occupants of Zambia began to be displaced or absorbed by more technologically-advanced migrating tribes around two thousand years ago. The major waves of Bantu -speaking immigrants the Bantu expansion began in the twelfth century .

Among them, the Tonga people (also called Batonga) were first to settle in Zambia and are believed to have come from the far east near the "big sea." The Nkoya people had also come much earlier with some suggesting that they came first into what is today called Zambia from the Luba-Lunda kingdoms in the north. Other groups followed with the greatest influx coming between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries . These later migrants came primarily from the Luba and Lunda tribes of southern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Angola but were joined in the nineteenth century by Ngoni peoples from the south. By the later part of the nineteenth century, the various peoples of Zambia were largely established in the areas they currently occupy.

Except for the occasional Portuguese explorer, the area lay untouched by Europeans for centuries. After the mid-nineteenth century, it was penetrated by Western explorers, missionaries, and traders. In 1855 , missionary and explorer David Livingstone , became the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River . He named them Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria . The falls are known in Zambia as Mosi-O-Tunya (in the Lozi or Kololo dialect), "the smoke that thunders." The Zambian town, Livingstone, near the falls is named after him.

In 1888 , Cecil Rhodes , spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained a mineral rights concession from local chiefs. In the west of the country, which came to be known as North Western Rhodesia, the British South African Company, Cecil Rhodes' company, obtained mineral rights for the area from The Litunga , the king of the Lozi [1] . In the east, King Mpezeni of the Ngoni resisted but he was defeated in battle [2] and that part of the country came to be known as North-Eastern Rhodesia. The two were administered as separate units until 1911 when they were joined to form Northern Rhodesia . In 1923 , the Company ceded control of Northern Rhodesia to the British Government after the government decided not to renew the Company's charter. That same year, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe ) was also proclaimed to be within the British sphere of influence and it was annexed formally and granted self-government. After negotiations, the administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British Colonial Office as a protectorate in 1924 .

In 1953, both Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe , respectively) were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi ) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland . The Federation was established despite overwhelming opposition from Africans, who demonstrated against it in 1960-61 and campaigned for its disbandment. [3] Northern Rhodesia was the centre of much of the turmoil and crisis that characterized the federation in its last years. The campaign was led initially by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula 's African National Congress (ANC) and later by Kenneth Kaunda 's United National Independence Party (UNIP). A two-stage election held in October and December 1962 resulted in an African majority in the legislative council and an uneasy coalition between the two African nationalist parties. The council passed resolutions calling for Northern Rhodesia's secession from the federation and demanding full internal self-government under a new constitution and a new National Assembly based on a broader, more democratic franchise. Led by Kenneth Kaunda , on 31 December 1963 , the federation was dissolved, and Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on 24 October 1964 . At that time, Kaunda became the country's first president.

At independence, despite its considerable mineral wealth, Zambia faced major challenges. Domestically, there were few trained and educated Zambians capable of running the government, and the economy was largely dependent on foreign expertise. Abroad, three of its neighbors Southern Rhodesia and the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola remained under white-dominated rule. Southern Rhodesia's white-ruled government unilaterally declared independence in November, 1965. In addition, Zambia shared a border with South African-controlled South-West Africa (now Namibia ). Zambia's sympathies lay with forces opposing colonial or white-dominated rule, particularly in Southern Rhodesia. During the next decade, it actively supported movements such as the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA); the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU); the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC); and the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).

Conflicts with Rhodesia (so renamed from Southern Rhodesia) resulted in the closing of Zambia's borders with that country and severe problems with international transport and power supply. However, the Kariba hydroelectric station on the Zambezi River provided sufficient capacity to satisfy the country's requirements for electricity (despite the fact that the hydro control center was on the Rhodesian side of the border). A railroad to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam , built with Chinese assistance, reduced Zambian dependence on railroad lines south to South Africa and west through an increasingly troubled Angola. Until the completion of the railroad, however, Zambia's major artery for imports and the critical export of copper was along the TanZam Road, running from Zambia to the port cities in Tanzania. Also a pipeline for oil was built from Dar-es-Salaam to Ndola in Zambia.

By the late 1970s , Mozambique and Angola had attained independence from Portugal. Zimbabwe achieved independence in accordance with the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement , but Zambia's problems were not solved. Civil war in the former Portuguese colonies generated an influx of refugees and caused continuing transportation problems. The Benguela railway , which extended west through Angola, was essentially closed to traffic from Zambia by the late 1970s. Zambia's strong support for the ANC, which had its external headquarters in Lusaka , created security problems as South Africa raided ANC targets in Zambia.

In the mid-1970s, the price of copper , Zambia's principal export, suffered a severe decline worldwide. In Zambia's situation, the cost of transporting the copper great distances to market was an additional strain. Zambia turned to foreign and international lenders for relief, but, as copper prices remained depressed, it became increasingly difficult to service its growing debt. By the mid-1990s, despite limited debt relief, Zambia's per capita foreign debt remained among the highest in the world.


The main article on politics and government of Zambia is Politics of Zambia .

Zambia's politics takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic , whereby the President of Zambia is both head of state and head of government in a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia ) became a republic immediately upon attaining independence in October 1964 .


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